How to Frame Art: An Angled Approach

Apart from displaying contemporary art from around the world, Principle Gallery also offers custom framing services. We house a great number of mat and framing samples for your convenience as well as provide professional advice on how to best frame your artwork. To give you some inspiration before your visit, here are some general guidelines to keep in mind when framing artwork:


Though this is a blog all about how to frame, sometimes it’s not necessary to frame at all. There are some instances where it is best not to frame, for the piece is best represented on its own.

  • GALLERY WRAP: When a painting is referred to as being “gallery-wrapped,” it means the canvas is secured to the back of the stretcher bars, concealing staples and other hardware from view. Most contemporary artists implement this mount to fully encompass the canvas with the artwork, often times having the painting continue onto the sides of the piece.
    • SUGGESTION: For gallery-wrapped paintings, we suggest not to frame them and to let the piece hang on its own.
    • EXAMPLE: Works by Lynn Boggess and Geoffrey Johnson
  • ON BOARD OR PANEL: As in most cases, paintings on thin boards and panels are framed. However, some pieces have finished or painted sides, are box mounted, or are on thicker boards, ultimatley giving them a simple, contemporary look.
    • SUGGESTION: In this case, we recommend not putting a frame on the piece in order to highlight the work’s natural finishings.
    • EXAMPLE: Works by Laura E. Pritchett and Lisa Noonis


The trickiest part of the framing process is choosing a frame. Although there are no rules for picking a frame, you should still remember that the artwork has the last say. The frame should not outshine the artwork, but enhance it!

Here is an example of how the appearance of an artwork is changed by selecting the right or wrong frame:

Glakas Collage

As you can see, the style of the piece and frame can affect how the art is portrayed. For this example of Gavin Glakas‘ 6th Avenue, 21st Century, the ornate gold frame does not quite fit the art’s subject matter or style; whereas, the other two frames follow the contemporary, modern concept represented in the art. The middle frame is an “okay” choice because it is modern in appearance, but the frame distracts from the actual artwork due to the mismatching color.


In this case, we would suggest picking the black or silver floater frame due to the chic, contemporary quality it brings to the piece. The frame’s simple, professional look allows for the artwork’s versatility in any interior all the while drawing more attention to the art as opposed to the frame.

Generally, contemporary works look best in a floater frame and classical pieces look better in traditional, ornate frames. But again, it depends on your style and the frame in mind! Mix-matching frames with artwork is always a fun, creative way to add a little more flare to the artwork and your interior!


Glass is the last feature to think about when framing your work, more specifically anything on paper. Typically, glass is used to protect paper media and works that are extremely fragile when in the presence of dust or light. Though this is an added feature, we do suggest considering glass with your frame in order to extend the longevity of your art and enhance its display.


There is a variety of glass to choose from that can help with aspects from conservation to reflection control. Museum Glass, for example, will adequately prevent glare as well as protect the work from UV light. The choice of glass depends on the type of frame and your style preferences as well!


Principle Gallery offers professional advice and framing services at the Alexandria location. We house a wide variety of framing samples and mats that are both affordable and current with artistic trends. Come stop by that gallery anytime with whatever you want framed, and we will be glad to help!


Feel free to stop in the gallery or contact us to make an appointment by clicking this link! And make sure to mark your calendar for the opening of Gavin Glakas‘ Solo Exhibition on Friday, October 14th and his live demonstration the next day!



3 thoughts on “How to Frame Art: An Angled Approach

  1. It’s very interesting how a frame affects the whole look of the artwork. I never considered how a frame can clash or match a piece of work. Next time I hang a picture in my home, I’ll really consider what artwork I’m putting in my space and try to match it with the best fit frame.

  2. I never took into account how the frame can affect how the art is portrayed. It definitely seems like it is worth the time to find an appropriate frame that is similar to the look and feel of the piece of art. Or, you can even consider trying to break conventional norms to make a piece stand out. Of course, you would have to make sure that it’s still compliments the piece. Going to take this into consideration when looking for a frame in the future.

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